We Fly Spitfires, one of my favourite blogs, posted an entry documenting a recent spat in the WoW-blogosphere regarding that terrible dragon of gold-buying.
I'll admit upfront that I've bought gold in World of Warcraft before; back when I first started playing and the thought of how much grinding I'd need to go through in order to purchase my first mount, the time commitment seemed unlikely. A little spam message in my inbox telling me how much game-gold I could get for a pittance of money seemed like a no-brainer: in the trade off between grinding for time, amidst my actual real life day job, or plunking down cash for the same result, ease won out. As my time in WoW wore on and I realised how much of those gold sellers obtained their funds through illicit means, I stopped utilising the service, but We Fly Spitfires brings up a very good point: while so many people are busy blaming people who purchase gold for all of society's ills, the actual people committing the crimes are benefiting from the transference of blame. Syncaine in particular, who I believe in the past has equated gold-buying with giving drugs to children (I think, my memory is fuzzy and my google-fu is not pulling up specific links) declares anyone who purchases gold is a bad person– a hyperbolic declaration I can't help but roll my eyes at. In the grand scheme of things, if deciding that my time is worth more to me than spending X hours in a game makes me a bad person, then okay.
I think we can all readily agree that gold obtained through illegal means, like hacking and phishing, isn't something someone should knowingly purchase– that's ultimately why I stopped buying any myself, because I didn't want to pay for a currency that may have been stolen from someone else. But blaming anyone and everyone who purchases in-game gold, whether in WoW or EVE or Aion, is a bit much: the black market will exist one way or the other, and such blame is like saying anyone who uses a computer is responsible for cialis spam and Nigerian fraud emails.
Anyway, this is a contentious and divisive issue, but I agree with We Fly Spitfires' overall point: blaming people who buy gold won't fix the issue of why they're buying gold in the first place. Whether the game itself is too hard, some players just want an edge, or some players are just lazy, a contingent of people will always decide that their time is worth more than plunking down $50.00 bucks for 1000 pieces of pretend money; if game devs and the gaming community really want to deal with this problem, blaming people who utilise existing services isn't the way to go about it.